Have you ever looked at some of the teachings of Jesus and just been really surprised at how he teaches and responds to people? Large crowds following Him and then he talks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. More than a few people walked away in that moment – so many that He asked His disciples if they were going to walk away, too. He spoke often of the cost of discipleship; how following Him could lead to prison, abuse, or even death. I was struck recently as I thought about the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 and how Jesus responded to him. Here is a guy asking how to go to heaven, and Jesus tells him what is probably the hardest sacrifice he could make. He didn’t just say: “follow me” (like He did with the disciples); or “say this prayer”; or anything that could be easy. There was a fundamental heart change that must happen that requires placing Jesus above all. Scripture tells us that the rich man walked away because he had a lot of stuff and didn’t want to let it go. But that is not all that is surprising about Jesus. We don‘t see him begging the guy to come back. He let him make his choice and live with it.
It appears that sometimes God’s loving discipline for our lives is to let us have what we want and all that that brings. The rich young ruler walked away from real life, real satisfaction and a relationship with the one who made all things and in whom all things are sustained. It is not a good trade really, but we do this too, don’t we? How many times do we trade the Joy of the Lord for temporary pleasure only to still be left empty. Lord, may I not trade the temporary for the eternal. Help me to graciously let people walk away rather than begging them to come to a half-hearted commitment to you, that is ultimately no commitment at all.